Given the American obsession with SUVs, it might strike anyone as a little funny that Toyota decided to bring out a sedan as the company’s new top-of-the-line vehicle.
But once you get your head under the all-new 2023 Crown, it doesn’t seem so ridiculous after all. Toyota has a few tricks in the works that could make SUV-crazed Americans consider an untraditional sedan.
The Crown is all new, representing the 16th generation of a nameplate that’s been going since 1955. Yes, you read that right. The Crown nameplate has always indicated the top of the line for Toyota cars. In America, this generation of the Crown replaces the venerable Avalon, which was sold as the top Toyota sedan in the U.S. for the past 28 years.
The 2023 Crown represents an all-new take on Toyota’s top model. It’s a hybrid, with all-wheel drive, and a raised ride height that delivers some of the crossover SUV qualities that have caused that segment to surge past sedans.
But the Crown is also rated by the EPA as a midsize sedan. That creates questions about whether Crown sales will pull buyers off Toyota’s bread-and-butter midsize sedan, the Camry. However, we don’t think so, and we’ll tell you why we think the Crown is going to be more of a halo car for the Toyota brand than a volume seller like the Camry or Corolla.
The first thing you notice about the Crown is that it’s a substantial vehicle. It’s only a few inches longer, wider and taller than the Camry, but it has the presence of a crossover SUV with a fastback roofline and short, coupe-style rear deck over its four-door design.
Then you’ll notice that the doors are large, like an SUV, and the taller ride height is complemented by a fairly tall door and comparatively shorter greenhouse for the cabin. Here again, the similarities to a crossover are notable.
With those features noted, the Crown is a good-looking car. It’s a new design that will attract attention and could easily be mistaken for one of the European brand fastback sedans of the last few years. Toyota has also raised the stakes with a selection of two-tone paint schemes that make the Crown all the more striking.
Slide into the driver’s seat, and Toyota’s strategy becomes completely clear. With the Crown, you don’t have to climb up into the cabin as you do with so many SUVs, but neither do you have to lower yourself into the seat as is necessary with many sport sedans. The Crown places the seats at a good height for a comfortable, easy entry. That may not sound like much, but the demographic that’s going to shop the Crown will appreciate not having to perform gymnastics to get in or out.
Once inside, the Crown delivers a premium experience, at least in the upper trim levels. Heated and ventilated leather seats are available, and there’s plenty of room in front and back. You can seat five adults in reasonable comfort in this car, again taking a page from the crossover SUV market.
The layout of screens, controls and functions is clean and easy to use. Hallelujah, there’s a real set of climate controls, so you don’t have to go hunting around the menu system to try to puzzle out how to turn on the defroster in the morning.
The new Crown comes in two flavors. There’s the basic Crown Hybrid, which features a 2.5-liter gasoline engine with a hybrid motor in front, paired with an electric motor at the back for AWD. This setup yields 236 net system horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque, with a continuously variable transmission. This system is optimized for fuel economy, rated at 42 mpg in city driving and 41 mpg on the highway, but it will still dash from 0-60 in a respectable 7.6 seconds, and deliver the winter traction benefits of AWD. The Crown XLE and Limited come with this driveline.
The top Platinum trim of the Crown comes with a system Toyota calls Hybrid Max. This pairs a 2.4-liter turbocharged gas engine with the front hybrid system, and the corresponding electric motor for the rear wheels. This system is rated up to 340 net system hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. You get the 0-60 run in a more exciting 5.7 seconds, but you sacrifice fuel economy down to 29 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.
Honestly, it’s worth the money and the fuel economy hit to get the Platinum trim with Hybrid Max. It feels more powerful than it is, and it imbues the Crown with the gravitas that a range-topping car should have. Accelerating onto the freeway or making a pass comes easy with the extra power, and you’re still getting better fuel economy than you’d expect in a car of this size.
Safety and Technology
The Crown benefits from the third generation of Toyota’s advanced driver assistance system, called Toyota Safety Sense 3.0. It’s actually more than the third generation, since there was a TSS 2.5 that’s still in production. The 3.0 adds better detection of motorcyclists and guardrails, and it will detect vehicles approaching from the sides. The newest version also includes full speed range adaptive cruise control, and better performance for lane management and lane tracing around curves.
New tech in TSS 3.0 includes a proactive driving assistance feature, which gently uses steering and throttle control in case you wander too close to another vehicle, pedestrian, or bicyclist. Blind spot monitoring is also standard.
In terms of dashboard tech, the Crown brings you the best Toyota has to offer. The driver information display is a 12.3-inch screen, and you get another 12.3-inch screen for infotainment. The only difference between the system in the base XLE trim and the Limited or Platinum trims is six ordinary speakers versus 11 JBL speakers.
You still get support for wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for phone integration. All trims get a nifty Qi wireless charging pocket, and your phone sits upright in the pocket. It will fit the latest ProMax sized iPhones, even in a protective case.
The Crown is going to be successful because it brings in the key elements of the crossover SUV driving experience, paired with the best aspects of a larger sedan. It’s got plenty of power under the hood, and its comparatively lower center of gravity will remind drivers of what they always liked about a sedan. Most of all, the slight raised ride height gives drivers that up-high viewpoint they like, without having to climb up to get it.
Toyota, as usual, has done a great job with regeneration and braking, making the whole Crown driving experience a smooth and intuitive process. There are no “oh, yeah, that’s the hybrid system” quirks that you’ll have to learn to live with. You can buy a Crown and forget that it’s a hybrid. Just drive it and enjoy the performance.
2023 Toyota Crown Platinum Specifications
|Dimension||L: 196.1 inches/W: 72.4 inches/H: 60.6 inches/Wheelbase: 112.2 inches|
|Powertrain||2.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine w/hybrid; CVT|
|Fuel Economy||29 mpg city/32 mpg highway/30 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $39,950; As tested: $53,445 including $1,095 destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
The 2023 Toyota Crown is expected to arrive at Toyota dealerships in early 2023. With supply chain issues, it might be smart to get your name on the list sooner rather than later.
One thing to talk about before we leave the Crown is the inevitable comparison with the Camry, which is a midsize sedan and most years, the most popular passenger car in America. The Crown is only a few inches bigger than the Camry in any given dimension, but it feels very different and decidedly upscale.
Where the Camry’s appeal is being a good value on an economy family sedan, the Crown is a step upwards in performance, luxury, features, and in price. The price of a Crown will start at the top end of the Camry price walk, with the Crown XLE trim starting at $39,950. Then you’ll step up to $45,550 for the Limited grade and $52,350 for the top Platinum grade.
Among the three trim options, we’d recommend going all the way to Platinum if you’re going to buy a Crown at all, because you might as well get the nice leather and heat/ventilation, and the Hybrid Max driveline. If you want a Toyota that can compete with European sedans, don’t skimp out when it counts.
2023 Toyota Crown Platinum — Frequently Asked Questions
Where will the 2023 Toyota Crown be built?
Is the Toyota Crown a luxury car?
Yes, in Japan the Crown has always been considered a luxury car.
How much ground clearance is available on the 2023 Toyota Crown?
According to Toyota, 5.8 inches.